A senior official in China has urged Chinese tourists to improve their behavior, the South China Morning Post reports. Vice-Premier Wang Yang said the “breeding” of some Chinese tourists leaves something to be desired and there are problems with them, “talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and willfully carving characters on items in scenic zones.”
Mr. Yang is backing up his warning. He made the comments at a meeting where the Communist Party passed a law that will allow travel companies to cancel their contracts with tourists who “violate social ethics.” While the wording is vague, it basically means tour companies can send embarrassing guests home.
Needless to say, this bit of news is causing much snickering in the Western press, but personally I haven’t noticed that Chinese tourists are any ruder than any other kind of tourist. Having lived in tourism epicenters such as Madrid and Oxford, I’ve seen plenty of Chinese tour groups and never witnessed any spitting. The only bit of obnoxiousness I saw was a group walking through Oxford with a tour leader giving her spiel on a megaphone. Yeah, passing through the dreaming towers of academe with a bloody megaphone. The Oxford police must have put a stop to it because I never saw it again.
Considering that the Chinese come from a culture where international tourism is a very recent phenomenon, I think on the whole they behave quite well. As China reaches out into the world, however, the government has become increasingly image conscious, doing such PR blitzes as putting on grandiose Chinese New Year’s shows in places like the Estonian capital Tallinn, a city with only a tiny Chinese population.
So congratulations to Mr. Yang for being overly cautious. If only David Cameron would tell the English not to go on drunken stag trips. If only Barack Obama would tell Americans to not be so damn loud and arrogant. Yes, these stereotypes only apply to a small minority, but it’s those obnoxious few that we tend to remember.
Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization revealed the Asian country has dramatically upped its travel spending, with last year’s expenditure up 40 percent from the prior year.
The organization credits China’s increased spending to the growing numbers of people entering the middle class.
According to the BBC, not only are the Chinese dedicating more money to travel, they are also shifting their spending habits. Instead of taking organized tours and joining busloads of other tourists, more and more Chinese are hiring cars and traveling independently.
However, one thing hasn’t changed – the Chinese still love to shop. Purchasing souvenirs and luxury goods remains high on the list of favorite travel activities.
Other emerging countries have also shot up the list. Russia’s travel spending increased by more than 30 percent last year, boosting the country to fifth place.
The United States came in at third place behind Germany, with tourism spending totaling just under $84 billion dollars.
In 2012, trips originating from China will comprise an estimated 8 percent of total world travel. The China Tourism Academy estimates that 80 million Chinese residents will travel overseas, spending an estimated US$80 billion. That’s a significant chunk of the market.
Many of the newer Chinese tourists are middle class. Travel is no longer reserved for the wealthy; more students and people from the working class are now venturing abroad. You predicts packed economy-class hotels in major tourism markets during traditional Chinese holidays like Spring Festival, summer vacations and early October.
Shopping is important, but so is nature. While Chinese tourists have a reputation for being shopaholics, most actually express a desire to explore natural settings and island escapes.
Cameras and Chinese menus are must-haves. A top priority for Chinese travelers is to photograph and be photographed, You reports. And while many stick to food they’re familiar with, many are willing to try local food if given ordering advice and menus in Chinese.
More Chinese are traveling independently. While tour groups are still the most convenient and common way for Chinese people to travel, more people are venturing out on their own or in small groups. You predicts that more Chinese will join the traditional backpacking routes of Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia.
Guam is the next big Chinese tourism destination. The United States island territory is already a popular getaway for Japanese and Korean tourists, and it has the natural beauty, shopping and island atmosphere that many Chinese tourists crave. You says that with the right infrastructure, it could join the Maldives as a top destination in the coming years.